The August riots in London and other cities north and south of the capital shook the society to the core. Yet it was the retail industry that suffered most from the mindless violence and destruction – with both electrical independents and multiple stores being the targets of looters and vandals. The question to which no one could find an answer at the time was: Why did this outburst of violence happen? What did the rioters hope to achieve?
Numerous reporters searching for clues approached the rioters who told them that they stole and broke everything in sight because they could. Well, this truth is hard to swallow and calls for a review of the principles on which our private and social lives are built. And indeed experts from different walks of life, from educators to insurance experts, are now analysing the causes, the outcomes and the remedies.
However, where does this leave retailers who – in an attempt to be as close to the public as possible – are most vulnerable to street violence, risking not only their livelihood but also personal safety?
Watching the scenes of mindless violence I thought about John Digwa and his beautiful store in Ilford which I visited only a few days before (which fortunately was left unscathed by the riots). I also pondered over John’s words about the need to take risk to remain a serious player in the constantly changing world of business.
I believe that the concept of business risk has acquired a totally new dimension for retailers since the events of August.